Recently fired Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt said in an op-ed published Thursday that he was “proud” of his widely-criticized early call of Arizona going to Joe Biden on Election Day. Stirewalt also accused “cosseted” viewers of being unable to accept news that doesn’t fit within their political leaning.
The politico was criticized heavily on election night for seemingly rushing to call Arizona for Biden, while being extremely slow to call Florida for former President Donald Trump. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for example, slammed the network in the wake of the calls, highlighting suspect inconsistency.
“A lot of the other networks still haven’t gone for Arizona for that. So for Fox to be so resistant to calling Florida, and yet jumping the gun on Arizona. I just thought was inexplicable,” DeSantis said. “I don’t think that was done without some type of motive, whether it was ratings, whether it was something else.”
“If you want to be aggressive, be aggressive across the board,” the Republican emphasized.
Stirewalt did not address Fox’s hesitance in calling Florida for Trump on Election Day when defending his decision on the Arizona call.
“I wanted to steam downriver as fast as I could to be first with the news to beat the competition and serve my audience,” the political editor said. “That’s why I was proud of our being first to project that Joe Biden would win Arizona, and very happy to defend that call in the face of a public backlash egged on by former President Trump.”
“Being right and beating the competition is no act of heroism; it’s just meeting the job description of the work I love,” Stirewalt continued. “But what happens now that there are almost no physical limits on the getting and giving of the news?”
“As outlets have increasingly prioritized habituation over information, consumers have unsurprisingly become ever more sensitive to any interruption of their daily diet,” he said.
“The rebellion on the populist right against the results of the 2020 election was partly a cynical, knowing effort by political operators and their hype men in the media to steal an election or at least get rich trying,” Stirewalt diagnosed. “But it was also the tragic consequence of the informational malnourishment so badly afflicting the nation.”
“When I defended the call for Biden in the Arizona election, I became a target of murderous rage from consumers who were furious at not having their views confirmed,” he claimed.
Viewers have been “cosseted by self-validating coverage for so long,” the politico argued, “many Americans now consider any news that might suggest that they are in error or that their side has been defeated as an attack on them personally. The lie that Trump won the 2020 election wasn’t nearly as much aimed at the opposing party as it was at the news outlets that stated the obvious, incontrovertible fact.”
Good reporting, Stirewalt said, “requires something of consumers, too: Enough humility to be open to learning something new.”
“What tugs at my mind after seeing a mob of enthusiastic ignoramuses sack the Capitol, though, is whether that sophistication will come quickly enough when outlets have the means to cater to every unhealthy craving of their consumers,” he concluded.
This article has been revised for clarity.